In Laughlin, stakes are lower--and so are the room rates

LAUGHLIN, Nev. -- Some people say this tiny city on the western shore of the Colorado River with inexpensive rooms and restaurants resembles Las Vegas in the good old days.

Inexpensive lodging and dining can be found in Laughlin, Nevada. The destination attracts nearly 5 million visitors annually who have a choice of 12,885 hotel rooms. Similar to Las Vegas, which is 90 miles away, the hotels and resorts here often have distinctive themes and styles.

But unlike Vegas, Laughlin is perhaps better known for low-stakes gambling than it is for high rollers. Its room rates are inexpensive.

Rates start at about $25, and clients should find they won't have to pay any more than $75 a night. Inexpensive dining is another attraction in this city of 8,000.

Following the lead of Las Vegas, which initiated buffet dining on a grand scale, nearly every resort here offers all-you-can-eat spreads. Breakfasts are usually less than $3, lunch is less than $4 and most dinners are under $5.

Specialty champagne buffets, at many hotels, can cost more. Some of the hotel/casinos also offer gourmet restaurants. Laughlin's hotel-casinos also offer Vegas-like entertainment but on a smaller scale.

Willie Nelson, for example, is a regular at the Riverside Resort. And also Vegas-like, some of the casinos are a draw in themselves. A steam engine winds through one resort property, shuttling customers from parking areas to the hotel/casino.

Sun-worshippers are attracted to an ocean-style sandy beach on the river's edge of another high-rise. For nongamers, there's tennis and golf. Trophy-size striped bass are commonly caught in Lake Mojave.

Following are some facts that clients might want to know about hotels and casinos here:

  • The Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino has six state-of-the-art movie theaters, a 70-vehicle classic car collection, convention facilities and a full hook-up RV park with 800 spaces. Earlier this year, the facility added a 34-lane bowling alley and supervised children's day care.
  • Guests at the Golden Nugget Laughlin can relax in Tarzan's Lounge, which is nestled in a man-made tropical rain forest under a 30-foot high glass-enclosed atrium.
  • Granny's Gourmet Room at the Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall has won gourmet awards. The hotel has a 250-seat banquet and meeting room.
  • The dining room at the Regency Casino, which specializes in steak and ribs, is open around the clock. It serves breakfast anytime.
  • The River Palms Resort features a South Atlantic/Bermuda style. Besides its 65,000-square-foot casino pit, the resort has five restaurants, six bars and lounges, an outdoor pool and an indoor health and fitness club.
  • The 22-acre Colorado Belle Hotel/Casino is shaped like a paddle wheeler. The decor is 19th century Mississippi riverboat.
  • Guests at the Ramada Express arrive via a steam locomotive that circles a large parking area. There is also a locomotive-shaped pool. The resort is the permanent home of "On the Wings of Eagles -- A Tribute to American Heroes." The hourlong multimedia show was designed by Disney.
  • Harrah's Laughlin has a sandy, ocean-style beach fronting the Colorado River.
  • A 3,000-seat Flamingo Outdoor Amphitheater books spring and fall concert acts at the Flamingo Hilton Laughlin. The hotel's tour boat, Celebration, also is used as a floating wedding chapel.
  • The Avi Hotel & Casino operates a harbor-marina complex on the Colorado River. The complex has a beach for swimming, a boat launch ramp, fuel dock and dockside concessions. The Edgewater Hotel & Casino has Laughlin's largest buffet, a steakhouse, a 24-hour coffee shop and a deli.
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